The TUF China Finale was at a bright and early time in North America (prelims at 6:20 AM ET), but fans who woke up early were treated to a great main event between welterweights Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway, and one of the best endings you'll see in any UFC fight.
Kim and Hathaway traded bombs early and often, and it had the makings of a stand-up war fought at a fast pace. Hathaway was the one who was wobbly and under heavier pressure, so he tried to control Kim with a takedown attempt (which was thwarted) and general cage control against the fence. Kim emphatically dropped Hathaway with a left hand and it looked for all the world that it would signify the end of the contest. Hathaway hung tough as Kim poured on the punishment, including an axe kick to the body just before the round ended.
Hathaway had a bit more success in round 2, timing Kim with hard knees to the body. Otherwise they both continued the slugfest theme of the previous 5 minutes, with Kim charging forward and swinging with reckless abandon. Jabs were not prevalent in this one. Kim gained control of the 2nd with a trip-takedown where he immediately gained side control. Kim briefly had the mounted crucifix, which Hathaway got out of, and the round ended with Kim the superior grappler.
The fight reached its dramatic conclusion early in the 3rd when Hathaway leaned in for an elbow, Kim ducked under it and in one fell swoop uncorked a perfect spinning elbow that put Hathaway flat on his back, facing towards the ceiling, and completely unconscious. Official Result: Dong Hyun Kim def. John Hathaway via KO (spinning back elbow) at 1:02, round 3.
What was the high point of the fight?
What else do you expect? A man knocked another man out with a fluid and perfectly timed spinning back elbow.
Where do these two go from here?
Kim (19-2-1, 1 NC) has now recorded back-to-back sensational knockouts on opponents who had previously never been finished in their careers. He was on the edge of the top 10 and has effectively sealed a top 10 place even with beating the unranked Hathaway. You can only expect a top 10 opponent coming his way next, and it's well deserved.
Hathaway (17-2) was outclassed for the most part, and the KO is a devastating result for him after 17 months on the shelf. He'll definitely be an asset for the UFC's international plans, but only against middling opposition in the same vein of TJ Waldburger.
Watch now, later, or never?
Now. Fun fight before the KO and the KO itself was one of the best to ever occur in the UFC, and I'm not speaking in hyperbole here.